I have kept in my heart the desire to write this article for some time now. This article is written to serve parents everywhere when shopping for their boy or girl's first BMX bike!
Just about 7 years now have I operated my own bike shop out of my parents home in Mesa, Arizona, Donnie's Bicycle Shop, and it thrills me to no end to be able to share some key information with you!
Before anything else, let's talk about BMX bike names and where you should or shouldn't buy your son or daughter's first bike. You can't go wrong with Haro. HARO BMX has been around for so long and they keep coming up with new and innovative designs. Also, Diamond Back is trustworthy, lightweight, and again, the company is rock solid. Red-Line BMX is also highly recommended.
My brand of choice is Mongoose BMX bikes - especially when their line is purchased from a real bike shop that knows what they are doing. Mongoose has been making BMX bikes that kick everybody's tails for years, and they make the most beautiful bikes! But your going to have to consult your local real bike shop owner, because you don't want to buy from Wal-Mart or other chain store. Also, you may want to contact Mongoose directly and request a race-bike BMX catalogue only.
The very first BMX bike I had was a bike called the JAG BMX by Mongoose, and the bike served me well for many years. If you can get ahold of one, it's sure worth it. My first bike had a glossy cream-orange frame, with white MotoMags. I recommend Motomags. But be careful, no Motomag imitations, and there are a ton of them. The mag has to say Motomag on it.
To warn about grips! Today's BMX bikes are coming out with some of the most uncomfortable grips for the kids' hands! Have the bike shop owner show you the array of grips available, and to me, a foam style is the best, or a really soft gel rubber is ok too. I always loved the foam grips when jumping because they absorb the shock of the fall!
Stay tuned for the launching of any GT's Dyno line. The frames on most of them are not as solid and if you don't believe me, go to your neighborhood thrift store, and you'll see a ton of GT Dyno's. I personally would not buy my son or daughter a GT bike, unless it was one of their top of the line models. I also had a problem airborne with them upon landing, when compared to the awesome Mongoose BMX, my dad bought for me at the local bike shop in Mesa.
Purchase your child's bike from a regular bike shop. Do not buy it at Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, or Sam's Club. These bikes carry the names Schwinn, Mongoose, and more, but let me guarantee you, they are not the real Mccoy!
Having let loose a can of worms, also watch out for high pressure bike salespeople. Believe it or not, they are out there! If they have such a good product, why do they have to pressure sale you?
Back to brand names. If you are going to buy a Schwinn, Mongoose, or other formerly well-trusted bike, deal with the company directly or a reputable bike shop in the area. You won't find any Wal-Mart BMX bikes in your local bicycle shop!
Then we come to hardware! If you're going to get your son or daughter a bike make sure you invest in ultra lightweight aluminum or chromoly rims. So many bikes out there are being sold with cheap rims and cranksets. It's worth the extra one to two hundred dollars to get your child the very best components. They will last longer and your child will have one of the best and baddest BMX bikes on the block!
Now that we have mentioned that, invest in three piece aluminum cranks or one piece aluminum, titanium, or chromoly or whatever other space-shuttle type of materials they have! Don't opt-out for regular steel cranks. Get a bike that has a lifetime or at least a twenty year frame warranty.
Should you wish to buy a vintage BMX bike from e-bay or a local auction, invest in the 1984 Schwinn Sting. That bike is totally bad to the bone man. Any newer versions of the Schwinn Sting should be purchased as well.
Fine and dandy, now let's talk about rims. Rims need to be light. So many BMX bikes have heavy bulky rims. Rims should be lightweight alloy. Also, you want to request sealed bearing hubs because they don't require any maintenance, almost ever, and they make them on the best BMX bikes everywhere.
In addition, you should also listen your child. If they love the bike, it's the bike for them. But let them know you love them enough to request upgrades on the rims, tires, and brakes!
Furthermore, BMX bikes should have mid-range to best brakes. Get alloy again, or high dollar brakes. This is your child's safety for goodness sakes! You know how many cheap brakes there are on BMX bikes? You don't want to know, believe me. I've broken several myself over the years!
When it is offered with the bike, it's ok to get the standard hub that breaks with their right leg as well, and handbrakes, double the stopping power! Also, out in Mesa, Arizona, I can't count all the times I've fishtailed with my BMX bike with that feature! You may not get that on some of the higher end bikes, but on many you still will! Ask for both if they have it, the coaster brake style with handbrakes!
Put your money in a mid-range helmet that is ANSI Certified and is labeled by them. Get gloves that are of excellent quality as well. Every BMX bike should have goosekneck, handlebar, and top frame pads, bare minimum, do not let your child take the bike without them.
Welding on frames should have beautiful thick welds that you'd want to eat off them. Don't buy any bike with ugly looking welds. Also, watch out for over priced bikes that have beautiful welds but low componentry.
My preference was to buy my BMX bikes with similar equipment too! If hubs, cranks, brakes, and so forth are all Shimano, that's a good thing. The bike is Shimano equipped. I'd steer clear of BMX bikes that have lightweight handlebars, but heavy cranks, hubs, and are made by 10 different companies!
Finally, there are only a few key things to remember. Weight. Get the lowest weight rims, hubs, and components that are of the highest quality. It is ok to have a heavier frame, but don't compromise on wheels, tires, or most of all-brakes! Buy a Haro, Diamond-Back, Red-Line, or Mongoose from a Bike Dealer, and your going to be happy! Don't buy from the local chain stores anymore, ever! Buy direct from your local bike shop that knows BMX!
Ultimately, have fun, and jump! If you can't jump the bike, don't buy it. The frames should be cleared for jumping! And remember, most of all, your BMX bike will be a part of your son or daughter's life for at least 5-7 years, so go ahead, spend a couple hundred more for better components. And remember, to hit a ramp, fly up, hold the bars, kick the rear wheel out, and just hang on, feeling nothing but the air and rising above the earth, on a BMX Bike, is something your child will never ever forget and will pass on from generation to generation.